I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.
from “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I have a confesssion. I’m really not very good at ‘doing friendship’. Maybe it’s the kind of nomadic, slightly rootless existence I live. Maybe I’ve had too much betrayal from people I thought were my friends, which makes it difficult to know who to trust…perhaps my vulnerability only stretches so far. Perhaps my introvert nature renders me susceptible to an overload of potentially draining relationships…
This particular bit of navel-gazing has been prompted by my decison to review my list of Facebook Friends, and to consider (shock…horror…) ‘Unfriending’ some of them (what an inelegant and imprecise term ‘unfriending’ is).
If friendship is driven by our need for intimacy (two-way) and a desire to avoid lonliness (less altuistic but equally important for mental health) then real intimate friendship needs to be protected at all cost.
I have old friends that I don’t see much where we still have a deep level of intimacy grown and matured over many years of close and distant friendship, as well as current and geographically close friends, so it’s not simply a matter of shedding the old to make room for the new (which is a policy I have to enact with my library of books on a regular basis)_.
Much of what is posted on Facebook has more to do with information than with intimacy (I really can’t cope with Twitter, which seems to me to be almost pure information…then again, perhaps I just don’t get it…). My capacity to cope with information is limited. When it begins to interfere with my more intimate, long-distance cyber relationships it becomes positively counter-productive.
When I get requests to become someone’s ‘friend’ on Facebook, I suspect that my decision to accept is based as much on curiosity…the where-are-they-now-syndrome…as on a desire to rekindle intimacy, and I think that’s probably OK, for a short while at least.
But at some point the difference between the life long-left behind and present priorities kicks in and I head for the “Friends” section and the ‘Unfriend’ menu item.
So if you realise that I have done the unthinkable to you, please don’t think that I find you draining or that I don’t like you. It’s much more complicated than that!